Whidbey News-Times


Noise may annoy, but it’s not a risk | Letters

September 21, 2013 · Updated 10:21 AM


As a resident of Oak Harbor, it is my pleasure to offer my professional opinion regarding the controversy over jet noise at Outlying Field Coupeville and surrounding area.

I am witness to a number of signs along State Highway 20 erected by “concerned citizens” alleging that jet noise generated at the OLF poses a hearing health risk to motorists, unprotected residents and more importantly children.

As a full professor at the University of Washington Medical Center and a Board Certified specialist in diseases of the ear hearing I cannot agree.

For more than 35 years, I offered expert witness and testimony in legal cases — too many to count — in which the question of hearing loss secondary to occupational noise exposure was litigated.

My opinion is sought and respected in courts of law and is relevant to this controversy.

While no one will dispute that prolonged exposure to high intensity noise is potentially injurious to hearing, critical exposure parameters including intensity and duration among many others must be considered when assigning risk or blame.

Otherwise, one could just as easily argue to cancel the Oak Harbor Music Festival because of the risk to hearing it represents.

For the same reason, and realistically, any risk imposed by the jet noise at OLF Coupeville or along Highway 20 does not justify the attention and alarm raised by the “concerned citizens.”

Admittedly, the noise may be annoying to some, but that is all. To suggest that it represents a risk to children’s hearing would be real if their parents allowed them to play along the flight line or carrier deck.

This is not the situation at OLF of along State Highway 20. The otherwise environmentally sound and informed population should not be misled by unsubstantiated and reckless claims to the contrary.

I recommend that reason prevail.

The allegations of the “concerned citizens” and its supporters have no scientific basis and should be dismissed. At least they should be recognized as opinions only, based on the uneducated speculation of a few biased individuals who are more concerned over their personal space than the welfare of the pilots whose training is critical to their survival and the defense of our country.

I have no personal investment in the socioeconomic issues that parallel this controversy except to say that perpetuating the Navy’s involvement on Whidbey Island and Oak Harbor is critical to the survival of our community.

Those individuals annoyed by the noise may want to confront and then abandon their unjustified fear and inflated anxiety and consider the benefits for the greater good.

It is the “Sound of Freedom” and no apology is necessary.

L.G. Duckert
Oak Harbor


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